The internet is dominated by US companies and universities. What happens there is therefore profoundly important for the future of cyberspace. And what is happening there now stinks.
Take a look at www.eff.org, home page of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF describes itself as a “civil liberties organisation working to protect your rights on-line.” It is running “A Campaign To Stop Unconstitutional Net Censorship Legislation.” The people gunning for them seem to be the Christian right and the FBI.
The “Christian Coalition” is sponsoring a measure proposed by Congressman Hyde, a Republican from Illinois. According to the EFF, this would “dumb down” all communications on the Net to the level where they would be “acceptable to children.”
I’m not sure that’s fair to children-but we’re talking serious censorship, with potentially severe criminal penalties. All right, the FBI couldn’t come over here and arrest a UK citizen for putting something untoward on the Net, but where America leads Britain often follows.
The EFF has issued an “alert” and is calling on sympathisers to contact members of the House of Representatives and the Senate: addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are provided. So if you want to do a bit of cyberlobbying, here’s your chance.
The EFF publishes a list of organisations which are supporting its campaign. There are groups from New Zealand, The Netherlands and France, but none from the UK. Are we ignorant, apathetic or hostile?
Regrettably, in the US the term “Internet” seems to have become synonymous with the idea of pornography and weirdos, so Congressman Hyde’s concerns are not entirely misplaced, only his proposed solution.
To get on to the Internet you have to have a modem: a device which connects your computer to the telephone system. They cost from about ?100 upwards. In our house only my PC has one. My children (aged 9 and 7) have surfed the Internet and e-mailed their friends from my machine, but so far only when I’ve been around to supervise. I know this can’t last much longer, so in anticipation of the day when they do it by themselves, I’ve been searching out a few of the smuttier parts of cyberspace-the places my children might stumble by accident, or design.
Well, dear readers, I am certainly not a prude, but some of the stuff I found was the product of very sick minds. No doubt gross and…